Thanks Dad!

I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He went to be with the Lord on Christmas evening several years ago. He went peaceably and found his reward – I’m grateful for those truths. I’m not completely sure what has my head in the past a bit more than usual for me, but I think it was the birth of my granddaughter, Sophia Madelyn. Her arrival caused my heart to explode, and I seem to be a bit more emotional these days.

I knew I would cry the first time I held her – and I did, but I was caught completely unaware by the emotions that swept over me as I watched my son hold/love/talk to his daughter. He is now a dad (and so far, a great one!), and I think that’s what got me thinking more about my own father.

I have always counted it a huge privilege to be a father, and I am so proud of where Matthew and Mitchell are in their lives. I can only hope as their dad I did it more right than wrong – at the least not to cause them too much counseling in their 40’s!

But tonight, with tears in my eyes, I am thinking about my dad and some of the memories I have of him. And even though you didn’t ask me to share them, I’m going to, probably for my own sake more than yours.

Dad – first of all, I want to thank you for teaching me how a man of God lives, and how he dies. If I do a fraction as well as you, I will be happy. Thank you for teaching me to love Jesus, and God’s people, and always in that order.

You introduced me to baseball. I remember pitching in little league, and one game in particular was rough. I pitched a complete game 2 hitter and lost 1-0 because they got a single, a passed ball, and another single. Our 2 hits didn’t come back to back. You took a broken-hearted young boy and just loved him that night. You didn’t try to say too much (I’m still working on that one), and you just let me be sad/mad. And when I got a double in the All-Star game and heard that whistle from the stands – wow! Well, I still love baseball, and so do both of my sons. We’ll see if that lives on in sweet Sophia – my guess is her daddy and mommy will see that it does. Thanks!

I remember when you showed me a faster way to get out of the blocks as a sprinter. I can still hear your whistle coming from the stands as I rounded the turn and headed towards the tape to win the 220-yd dash in a personal best. Late at night I still love watching track and field on TV, but particularly the sprints and short relays. Thanks!

Oh, and the pecan pies in the basement. 1 pie, 2 forks, and a father and son enjoying their favorite dessert without the need of extra plates. The best times! Thanks!

And Credence Clearwater Revival at Vet’s Auditorium in Des Moines – you took me to my first concert. And you liked jazz, not rock. Thanks!

Remember the 1970, 3-on-the-tree, Ford Maverick? Thanks for helping me get my first car. It wasn’t always fun having a driver education teacher for a dad, but what you taught me has kept me and my family safe several times. Thanks!

When I wrecked the car or got a speeding ticket – you were always so kind and asked, “have you learned?” Thanks!

I remember how you supported my decision to not be a bible major, but instead to pursue music education. You were always such a source of encouragement, and as a fellow educator, you were able to listen to me at various stages of my development and give me perspective. I’m pretty sure I made the right choice. Thanks, dad!

And the phone bill the last month before Sue and I could be together at college again. You said I could call once a week. When it because once a day, you just paid the bill and smiled. Thanks!

I remember calling home from college because I had a friend in crisis, and I knew I was going to bomb a test the next day if I did what my heart told me to. It would also ruin my 4.0 that semester. I will never forget hearing you say, “Son, I will support whatever decision you make and the consequences, but remember, Jesus didn’t die for a GPA.” Thanks for that, dad.

I remember you crying when you watched me perform or conduct. I understood that better as it became my turn to be proud of my boys, but it always made me feel as though what I was doing mattered. Thanks for showing me that real men have a soft and tender side – knowing that has served me well over the years.

I loved how positive you were. You were the one who didn’t have time to ponder if your glass was 1/2 empty or 1/2 full – you were too busy filling everyone else’s glasses.

I loved how you studied the bible late at night, and I remember when you stopped spanking me and would sit with that bible on the edge of my bed and discuss my behavior in relation to my walk with God. I so many times wished you had just spanked me, but in the long run, I understand you were planting seeds for God to water.

Thank you for showing me how to love a wife, how to be dedicated to a family, and how to place others’ needs ahead of yours. Also, thank you for loving my wife and my family, and continuing to place others’ needs ahead of yours.

The other night I was having a late night snack (sound familiar, dad?) and found myself taking the tip of the knife and scraping the inside of the peanut butter jar (sound familiar). The other day I was trimming and the line broke – guess what popped out of my mouth? – “Dirty birds!” (sound familiar). Sometimes I stay up late and look for obscure movies, because, well, I think you know.

I’m not sure anyone is still reading this, but I could go on and on and on, Dad – probably should try to keep this memory time from turning into a novel. Please know how much I miss you. Please know how much I love you. Please know how grateful I am to have had you for a dad. If I had to do it all over again, I would want the same father. As I reflect on how passionate I am about my faith, my family, and my career, I realize I had the perfect mentor for how to do all that to His glory.

Thanks, Dad!